A tiny BIOS chip lurks inside every computer, sitting on your motherboard to breathe life into your system when you press the power button. It not only powers your PC, but helps protect it, too.

BIOS stands for basic input and output system, and the BIOS chip initializes all the other devices in your PC, like the CPU, GPU, and motherboard chipset. But a few years ago, motherboard manufacturers—in partnership with Microsoft and Intel—introduced a replacement for traditional BIOS chips dubbed UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).

Almost every motherboard shipping today has a UEFI chip rather than a BIOS chip (UEFI is a Windows 11 system requirement, in fact), but they both share the same core purpose: preparing the system to boot into the operating system. That said, most people still call the UEFI the “BIOS” because of the familiarity of the term.

Why you should (or shouldn’t) update your BIOS

Understanding your UEFI is important so you can understand how (and if) to take advantage of the feature updates and bug fixes that come with the BIOS updates offered by motherboard manufacturers.

motherboard shot Thiago Trevisan/IDG

New chip and motherboard platforms often receive numerous BIOS revisions early in their lifecycle, to work out bugs.

Your motherboard likely uses whatever firmware revision the motherboard manufacturer was on back when it was built. Over the lifespan of a motherboard, manufacturers release new firmware packages or BIOS updates that will enable support for new processors and memory, or solve commonly reported bugs. For years, the only real reason to update to a newer firmware revision, however, is to solve a bug in your UEFI or to swap in a CPU that’s newer than your motherboard.

Some people like to regularly check for and update their UEFI firmware packages just to stay up to date. At one time, this was considered a risky practice, given that the firmware updating process can potentially brick your motherboard in the same way that flashing a custom ROM on to Android phone can brick the device. It’s best not to update your UEFI firmware unless there is something specific that the updated firmware offers that you need.

That said, you probably want to stay on top of BIOS updates if you’re on a chip or motherboard platform that’s fresh out of the gates. Several motherboard BIOS updates were released early during the first generation of AMD’s disruptive Ryzen chips, and each provided additional performance and system stability. With Intel’s Alder Lake switching to a radical new hybrid core chip design this fall, and both Intel and AMD expected to roll out new motherboard sockets next generation, we may soon be an era where it’s more common to update your BIOS while bleeding-edge kinks get worked out.

How to update your PC BIOS

update bios system info Brad Chacos

1. Find your current BIOS version: Before you upgrade your BIOS, make sure you’re actually installing a new version. The easiest way to find your BIOS version is to open up the System Information app by typing msinfo into the Windows search bar. In the window that opens, your BIOS version should show up on the right, under your processor speed. Record your version number and date, then compare it to the latest version available on your motherboard’s support page on the manufacturer’s website.



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